A mid-20’s guy with a shaved head, in a wife beater that shows off his oily-looking biceps, pounds Migos out the windows of his beat-up gold Toyota Corolla. At a red light, he bends over the back seat to reach for some unidentified object. My eyes flick nervously around, between the Toyota guy, and a wild-eyed man sitting on the curb, who seems to have no irises and no need to blink. Across the street is an addiction recovery center. You know, I don’t love hanging out in Bushwick.
A group of fashionable hipsters lurks outside the door of Market Hotel, shuffling around before the venue opens. I guess plenty of them probably live in the area, taking advantage of the low rent to devote a more significant portion of their earnings toward the arts. Making controversial economic choices like that is a way to skim more art out of the economy at large, by defying the traditional pie-chart expectations of how an individual monad within an economic system is expected to divy their earnings, and taking advantage of low rent in poor areas. This is one facet of a vastly more complex issue called ‘gentrification’. It reminds me of the rule that if you’re a reporter, you can look at people’s problems but you’re not allowed to intervene, even if you see a kid starving in Africa or something or see people getting bombed in Kabul. Likewise, I guess the hipsters are like, oh, I’m here for the DIY venues and the ramen because I have a blog to write, it’s not my job to worry about the people who are dying in the gutter of drug addiction.
I pretty much look like a Texas sorority girl / mom, in a North Face jacket that I’ve had since high school, light wash jeans, and a heather-gray t-shirt. I’m also wearing a pair of black Nikes that Naomi Klein would love to hate.
Soooo… major sociocultural issues & clashes set aside, I enter the venue and proceed chillax on a bench inside.
Music fans have a unique aesthetic sensibility that treasures fashion’s possibilities to express the sexual and romantic personality without adhering to traditional ideas of gendered beauty. I was really touched by this tonight, and it took me back to my younger days, when I was cutting off all my hair, wearing boy-clothes, bizzarely mixing thrifted neon Bapes with skinny jeans and my grandmother’s wool sweaters. The fans who make fandom an art of its own are part of what make the music scene such an incredibly beautiful & crucial world.
great fashion moments
girl with shoulder-length platinum page-boy hair and a faded N*Sync shirt.
fellow arts writer, rocking clear-vinyl weave clogs with glitter embedded in the vinyl
numerous 90’s-esque knit crop-top in tennis-y hues
boxy white dress with a row of black hearts sewn down the front center seam for an Alice in Wonderland-y vibe. This look paired with knee-high black leather boots.
girl in red with Dita Von Teese spit-curls. with eyes closed, she sways in time to the music.
handsome boys in slim-cut jeans, soft-looking t-shirts, and earnest baseball caps
I almost didn’t recognize Preston with his shoulder-length hair, but it was such a relief to see a friendly and familiar face that my heart brimmed over as soon as I realized it was him.
in the green room
[cracks beer (fizz)]
[points to Instagram] midnight roller rink is posting all these…
what’s the best place for a date in Silverlake? my friend wants to know—
oh, elf cafe - for someone that doesn’t drink?
that Thai place by the Satellite— they have like, romantic teapots —
[band] hasn’t really been that active- I mean they’re really bougie but also like, neurotic-
he’s just like a shitty person though. I mean I love his music taste-
at Desert Daze - -
after a relationship that long- it’s like…
like terrible psychedlic prose, totally incomprehensible—
the subletter crawled into bed with the other subletter- it’s like that’s the last time I’m ever fucking renting to a stranger-
like I appreciate him being able to parlay his career with [band] into-
[the opener Steve Jr., pounds out metal music that’s both 'thrashing’ and ‘sensitively felt’.]
Taylor, the bassist for Jerry Paper, has a quietly swaggacious manner. Tonight she also shows us a small green vinyl handbag, which Preston notes “looks like a Cadillac”.
Silver hardware, notes Taylor with raised eyebrows. Four dollars.
As the Jerry Paper set begins, Lucas slips into character, and enters the groove. He strokes the air in front of him, as though petting the dorsal end of an invisible dolphin.
This song is about explaining how much money you make to God.
The instrumentals have a lounge-y chillness to them, that’s not bossa nova, but has a similarly relaxed, hypnotic tempo. It’s circular and mellow like a carousel, and if I were to directly name a band that they remind me of sonically, I would have to say Ariel Pink.
There are moments in Lucas’ dancing that remind me of the way Balanchine uses even the smallest dance steps such as tendus in the ballet Who Cares? (1970), to accentuate musical decoration such as bells or percussive moments. For example, Lucas will tap into a drum lick and illustrate it with a butterfly gesture in the hands, or tune into a guitar solo and start stroking the air in time.
He assumes a parodical character that seems to both celebrate and deconstruct not only gender, but the idea of the diva or performer. There are some aspects of the persona of Jerry Paper that seem to be fruits of poststructuralist discourse. Fashion-wise, Lucas favors Tevas and knit minidresses- this time, a sleeveless mustard yellow velvet that clings to his nipples, last time I saw them at Baby’s All Right, a gray knit dress in a similar cut, I believe from “the Gap”. The look, paired with his tortoiseshell glasses, manages to evoke norm-core and a “liberal married couple” aesthetic- Lucas manifesting both the anima and the animus of this imagined couple. It expresses some mysterious and ambiguous facets of the psychosexual persona.
Lucas speaks openly about the positivity of being an emotional being. He notes that during his 7 years living in New York, the people in TONSTARTSBANDHT (the headliners), helped him to become a sensitive, emotionally open human being. But there are more complexities to his self-presentation than simply a men’s movement expression of the poetic and sensitive side of masculinity- there seem to be subtle parodies ingrained in the persona, of the idea of a lounge singer generally.
Part of this is expressed in a subtle dissociativity. Lucas enters a cloistered dreamspace when he dances, like someone whose body is there, singing, dancing, but whose spirit is drifting somewhere far above, privately— hitched a ride on a wandering albatross. His eyes close, as he drags a Teva-clad toe across the stage, twirling and popping a hip, pausing in an instant to croon out a line without opening his eyes. This phenomenon of separateness clads him in a layer of self-protectiveness- a distance generated by absurdity, and exacerbated by the fact that his lyrics are actually quite difficult to decipher, because they are cloaked in waves of sound.
He snaps out of this trance to explain the next song. This one was inspired by standing on a mountain and learning that the Mother of All Bombs had been dropped in Iraq, and feeling “bummed out” about it. I imagine him working through Judith Butler texts on the couches of New York DIY venues as a younger musician, crafting his aesthetic projects from the perspective of a reader.
The ballroom space of the Market Hotel was packed for his set, and the fans seemed devoted and passionate. One thing I love about the ballroom is that it’s so close to the J-M-Z train line, that the trains creep by directly outside of the window behind the band. The window is positioned where you would have an altar piece or a rose window at a church, but instead the window opens onto Brooklyn, and specifically the Brooklyn transit system. It’s architecturally intentional, and noticeably cinematic. It also adds a beautiful golden cast of light to the ballroom, and ingrains the cultural events of the venue into the larger narrative of the city, in a way that feels spiritual like a Sigur Ros video or a Terrence Malick film.
Stand-out moments from the show besides Lucas’ dancing were a really groovy guitar solo by Preston, and getting to hear some tracks off their forthcoming album.
There are various suppositions one could make about Jerry Paper's reality: on the one hand, Jerry Paper is pseudo-philosophical, but mostly just silly. Though airy and dreamlike onstage, his casual air of dissociative divahood seems to be an 'effortlessness' that barely conceals the effort that persona requires to assume, and he adopts a veritable buffet of signifiers of artiness, which don't seem to stem from a cogent or meaningful philosophical core. However, he is definitely a fun act to see.
On the other hand, the strange mash-up of signifiers equates to a yin yang zone where if everything means nothing, doesn't everything mean everything? Following this train of thought, I'm led back to presentness. I'm feeling sonic pleasure, and good-vibe pleasure- simultaneously drawn into pressed away from Jerry Paper's private world of imagining. He is definitely a fun act to see.